Servers & Systems: The Right Compute

Should you migrate cloud-based workloads to on-prem? 5 questions to help you decide

Companies are seeing real benefits from repatriating cloud workloads, according to a new Aberdeen report. Is it a good move for your small or midsized business?

For a couple of years now, we’ve been seeing articles about companies repatriating cloud workloads – not just re-calibrating their use of public cloud, but actually migrating previously cloud-based apps to the data center. I was initially a bit sceptical of this “unclouding” trend, but the reports just keep coming, and now a new knowledge brief from Aberdeen puts some numbers behind it. (See The Myth of the Cloud World: Many Businesses are Instead Boosting On-Premises Workloads.) From 2018 to 2020, deployments of private cloud and on-premises systems have nearly doubled, according to the report, and workloads on public cloud have decreased by 25 percent.

HPE Small Business IT Solutions.pngNow, the study was published in May of this year, and I’m guessing the data collection pre-dates the COVID-19 outbreak, which may well be pushing companies more towards public cloud. Still, this is definitely food for thought. It suggests that companies are adopting a more sophisticated approach to deciding where workloads should reside. As Aberdeen puts it: “Of course, this isn’t a death knell for public cloud providers, who are still vital for most modern businesses. And it doesn’t mean we’ll see a resurgence in giant, floor-spanning data centers. But organizations are realizing that to get the most out of their IT infrastructure, they need flexible platforms that give them the best performance, management, and resiliency for their many varied workloads.”

Go or stay?

Most small and midsized businesses have at least some apps and data in the cloud. If your SMB is among them, you may be wondering if you should migrate some of those assets to on-prem infrastructure. Here are 5 questions to help you decide:

1. What are the egress costs associated with the move? It’s generally free to move data into the cloud, but pulling it out again usually comes at a cost. And it’s easy to overlook that fact. For example, NASA reportedly overlooked egress costs when it set up a 247-petabyte data store on AWS, according to this article – until the costs showed up, embarrassingly, in an audit. Now, obviously no SMB is going to be launching hundreds of petabytes of data into the cloud. But if you’re running big data systems or a lot of storage-intensive projects, it can all add up – probably not to a huge amount, but enough to be an unpleasant, and possibly embarrassing, surprise on your bill.

2. Can I afford to manage and maintain on-prem infrastructure? Aberdeen’s mention of “floor-spanning datacenters” brings to mind the challenges involved in managing and maintaining large IT infrastructures, and the IT skills needed to do so. Those massive installations were never characteristic of smaller businesses, of course, but it’s true that SMBs often have limited access to the expertise needed to run more modest on-prem IT estates. So it’s encouraging that Aberdeen sees signs that modern on-prem compute can actually simplify IT management. The knowledge brief notes that “on-premises organizations are less likely than their public cloud peers to report that they are pressured by rising complexity, meaning that their increased use of on-premises systems is easing their management burden and lowering complexity.”

3. How much speed do I need? Latency and performance requirements become more critical as your business grows. Cloud services may no longer meet your standards for business-critical applications and information, especially for apps that haven’t been optimized for cloud. Cloud-based backups can take longer to get you up and running than a local system would.

Data generation is increasingly moving to the edge. If you are implementing Internet of Things or edge computing use cases, or planning to do so in the future, on-prem resources are your best bet for the performance muscle you need.

4. Is now the right time to embrace hybrid IT? The choice of cloud or on-prem may have been made for reasons that have more to do with your company’s history and culture than with its current needs, as Mark Simpkins pointed out in this post: Run an application on-prem or in the cloud? 10 questions to help you decide. “Fast-growing organizations simply may not have had time to give it much thought. An older company may have started out with a big investment in on-prem infrastructure and kept to that path. A newer business might have jumped straight to cloud from the start-up stage.”

These either/or approaches may have served their purpose, but for the longer term a more flexible strategy will yield better results. The hybrid IT model is rapidly gaining traction in SMBs, as well as larger organizations, and will likely remain dominant for IT’s foreseeable future. It’s a dynamic, “best-of-both-worlds” combination that enables you to spin up resources quickly when you need them, but keep business-critical data and apps behind the firewall. If your strategy has been heavily cloud-oriented, this might be a good time to consider bringing some workloads into a more balanced platform that will serve your business well into the future.

5. Will this help me simplify regulatory compliance? As your business expands into new markets and jurisdictions, compliance with data confidentiality requirements can become increasingly worrisome when you don’t have total control over where the data is located. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is just one example, though a huge one, of the growing legislative interest of governments in corporate data, and it won’t be the last.

Whatever answer you choose, HPE has the right solution for you. As the leader in the hybrid IT space for SMBs, HPE can get you where you want to go and help you do more with less.

Learn more about HPE Small Business IT Solutions.

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Martin Oderinde
Hewlett Packard Enterprise



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About the Author


Martin Oderinde is an SMB Server Product Marketing Manager for Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Martin is an experienced professional in product marketing and analytics who blogs on topics of servers and solutions for the Small and Midsized segment.